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At the APA meeting, Shultz and Espinel described the way increasing storm severity amplifies those mental health problems. “Everything ramps up,” Shultz says. Longer and stronger storms, for example, increase the opportunity for people to have direct, potentially traumatic contact with storm events. Catastrophic damage from major storms, like that seen in Puerto Rico, mean people experience more loss, which increases their risk for depression and substance abuse. Damage to health care systems can disrupt care for people who already have mental illnesses, and who are at risk of their illness being exacerbated by a disaster.
“Disasters are often unexpected, even if they can be predicted,” Shultz says. Unexpected or premature deaths from an emergency or disaster are particularly challenging to deal with, he says.
Regularity - Storm - Events - Health - Professionals
The increasing regularity of these storm events mean that psychiatric and mental health professionals need to strengthen interventions and strategies that can help people—particularly those who live in coastal communities—psychologically prepare for the weather events. “We really need to think about who is most vulnerable to these mental health impacts,” Schwartz says—be that...
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